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Vote of the week: What's your favorite part of a theme park?

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Published: June 30, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Think about your favorite theme park for a moment. Now, think about your favorite experience at your favorite park. Where were you? What element of the theme park were you enjoying at that most special moment?

Think about that as you answer this week's vote: (And, as always, please explain your choice in the comments!)

Readers' Opinions

From Claudine Deshaies on June 30, 2007 at 6:37 PM
I really don't think I could pick ONE element. All of it put together is what makes for a great day. Nice weather, thrilling rides, nice landscaping and a few relaxing rides are all equal when the day is done. I can't pick one.
From Robert Niles on June 30, 2007 at 10:20 PM
I'm giving my vote today to themed playgrounds -- they are where I spent most of my time in theme parks as a kid and where I spend most of my time with my kids in theme parks today. I love the fact that you can create your own narrative in these play areas, making them far more addictive, to me, at least, than traditional rides. My faves have been Tom Sawyer's Island at Disney and the Fun Town Fire Academy and Driving School at Legoland California.

Now in that period between my childhood and parenthood, I'd have gone with the flume rides, though, today, if I were not a parent, the shoot-'em-ups (Men in Black, Buzz Lightyear) might be my choice.

From Adrian Walker on July 1, 2007 at 1:09 AM
Simulator rides wins my vote although shoot-em-up rides comes in at a close second!

I guess the first time I remember riding Spiderman at IOA I was completely blown away by the whole experience. Also, at general fairs and othr theme parks, I'am a fan of all their simulator rides as well.

Oh, and scenary in playgrounds etc comes in at third.

From Mark Walker on July 1, 2007 at 10:37 AM
I would have put down Themed and High-Speed coasters, but that wasn't available. Never mind.
From David Kildal on July 1, 2007 at 1:14 PM
I like well themed coasters/thrill rides. If the ride is thrilling, and the theming is great, then the whole thing is a worthwhile experience.
From James Cunningham on July 1, 2007 at 1:40 PM
I notice that the top two choices by voters are roller coasters. But for me, high thrill rides are not what contributes to a "theme" park but are more of the pervue of generic amuzement parks and carnivals. What I would have picked was not an option to vote for, which would have been THE ATMOSPHERE - that's what makes a theme park (something which the Magic Kingdom wins at, hands down). The way the park is presented, with every nook & cranny decorated to match a theme - THAT'S a theme park.

So I had to go with my next favorite: Dark Rides. Things like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Twister the Ride, The Mummy, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Dinosaur!, Maelstrom, Spaceship Earth, etc, contribute the most to a park's over-all theme and make it memorable. You can go anywhere for thrill a ride like a coaster (big whoop). What's so special about that?

From Paul Jeffs on July 1, 2007 at 2:53 PM
A great bit of themeing can make any of-the-shelf ride ten times better, and a well themed dark-ride with a compelling story is what theme parks are all about. Otherwise they're just a collection of thrill rides i.e an amusment park.
From Anthony Murphy on July 1, 2007 at 3:24 PM
I would say animatronic rides because they seem to be the ones that are classics. Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribean are some of them. There are some that fall into more than one grouping like Jurrasic Park or Everest. Still, themed roller coasters comes in a close second for me!
From steve lee on July 1, 2007 at 6:34 PM
We park our cars in the same garage, James. Has anyone purchased "amusementparkinsider" yet?
From Robert Niles on July 1, 2007 at 6:57 PM
One reason why I'm putting these weekly votes on the site is that watching the results captivates the stats geek in me.

Here's another way of looking at the results, as of this moment, more than 60 percent of respondents picked something *other* than unthemed coasters as their favorite theme park element.

The thrill ride, amusement park crowd's got one choice here: the unthemed coasters. But the theme park crowd's got 13 other choices, and are splitting their votes accordingly.

I also find it interesting that while another purpose of the votes was to stimulate some discussion, only the theme park fans seem to be participating. The amusement/thrill fans vote, and move on without commenting.

Now, part of that is due to the fact that one need not register with the site to vote, but one must to comment. That suggests to me that there is a large "drive by" community of amusment/thrill fans who lurk on the site, but do not otherwise participate the way that the theme park fans do.

Anyway, I still think y'all don't give enough love to the playgrounds.... ;-)

From Robert OGrosky on July 1, 2007 at 7:10 PM
I would also agree that the most enjoyable aspect of a theme park is "atmosphere" and if done right is what makes a visit great.

With the options I voted for dark rides!!! Most parks can offer a decent/excellant roller coasters, but only the great parks can offer a ride like POTC/Haunted Mansion/Spiderman etc. The dark rides/atmosphere is what makes the for a great time at the park!!

From Rob P on July 2, 2007 at 1:26 AM
What could be better and more fun on a really hotday than getting completely soaked on a wet ride ?

Ok.......going on a fast coaster afterwards.

Last May , when it was 97 degrees, we rode Kali Rapids , got wet , and rode Everest. Cooled down really quick. Lunched at the Flame Tree BBQ while we dried off and rested at Bug's Life.

So maybe that's why we need all the elements of a Theme Park for it to work well.

From Matthew Baker on July 2, 2007 at 3:23 AM
I gotta agree with atmosphere. Without it, my only interest will usually just be some of the rides. By way of example, I find roller coasters fascinating and enjoy riding them well enough. Last year at SFMM, by the end of the day after riding a lot of them a few times I'd had my fill and have no real desire to return in the foreseeable future. I enjoyed being there OK, but the big rides turned out to be my only substantial interest in the long run.

Now, at Disneyland ... it's all but impossible for me to get bored, and at the end of the day I don't want to leave. I enjoy simply being there as much as all the cool things to do.

BTW I like playgrounds too, although I've experienced very few. Every theme park should have a good one. I've probably said this here before: being 33 and 6'3" DOES NOT keep me away from Tom Sawyer Island. :-)

I'm not sure what to vote for. Along with atmosphere, I enjoy unique rides of various types, most interactive attractions (Buzz = obsession), parades and shows that have spectacle (fireworks, etc), shopping to an extent, and also the grounds/gardens (appealing to my interest in architecture, civil engineering and horticulture maybe).

From Derek Potter on July 2, 2007 at 7:28 AM
There is a certain x-factor that is there when certain elements come together the right way. Scenery and atmosphere are very important to me. It doesn't necessarily have to be themed to have that x-factor. When landscaping, lighting, rides and other sights and sounds blend the right way, it all comes together. I don't really care so much about the live shows, and it takes a variety of rides to make it happen. Still though, I'm a thrill ride junkie at heart, so my favorite part is the roller coaster. Large and intense, smaller and themed...it doesn't matter.

It's interesting that the roller coasters are winning by a landslide. I do realize that there is really only a couple of choices for the amusement park goer, but even on a site that leans towards theme parks, the roller coaster wins.

From James Adams on July 2, 2007 at 7:40 AM
I voted for dark rides as well as they are the epitome of theming at a theme park along with the themed mid speed coasters and the playgrounds. Out of curiosity, what is an example of high-speed themed coasters?

Also, I was surprised to see so many voted for high speed unthemed coasters. Perhaps someone who voted for this could comment as to what they love about those?

From Kevin Green on July 2, 2007 at 1:04 PM
I love the roller coasters and high tech shows and ride, but I have always loved just sitting on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. It's an escape from the outside world.
From Christina Moon on July 2, 2007 at 6:40 PM
I like themed roller coasters. So if that means they'll loose a little speed, so be it. I mean, Top Thrill Dragster has lots of themeing and its athe second fastest in the world... Wait, why cant we have high speed themed coasters? lol
From Robert Niles on July 2, 2007 at 9:53 PM
Top Thrill Dragster has lots of theming? Did I miss it? :-)

I think we're talking more Expedition Everest when we're talking 'theming' here....

From Mostly Anonymous on July 3, 2007 at 9:48 AM
I have to agree that themed playgrounds are a blast. One of my happiest mornings was getting soaked at the watery playground at Universal Studios Orlando.

But I had to put my vote for dark rides - which actually overlap a lot of the other categories. I love Splash Mountain, which is not just a flume, but also a dark ride. I also love Men in Black, which is really another dark ride.

And given Robert's advice to think of your happiest moments, dark rides had to win out for me. Some of my happiest memories include: taking an adult friend on her first ride in the Haunted Mansion and seeing her shock and amazement at seeing the ballroom scene, having my 1-year old get upset because our ride on Pirates of Caribbean was ending and he didn't want to get off the boat, and riding Men in Black 5 times in a row on our first visit to Universal Orlando.

However, I could imagine a lot of "happiest moments" involve roller coasters. After all, the thrill of a coaster can elicit a really strong emotional response!

From Shane Morgan on July 3, 2007 at 3:42 PM
Man, this is a tough question. What does one gauge his response on? Did I just quote Mallrats....well, I don't know if I can choose. Each part of a theme park can evoke dfferent emotions from me, and I think that they are all an important part of the theme park.

Color me undecided.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on July 5, 2007 at 8:17 AM
Well, mostly I will say the high-speed roller coaster will be my best choice. But mainly it's not the thrill I want to have in a theme park. It's the sensation to ride something with other strangers, people that you don't know. Isn't it fun to have a lot of different people do the same thing?? I also like the theme of the park, it makes you get into the experience itself.

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